Why do painters wear white?

Aug 24, 2021

No matter where you live or what you do, whenever someone talks about professional painters, the first picture that comes to mind is their white overalls. The image of a painter’s white overalls, painting away to glory, is so strong, it transcends cultures and geographies. Even in movies, professional painters are shown wearing white-colored clothing. Have you ever wondered why this fixation with the color white?

Why do painters wear white

John hard at work wearing the PLE white t-shirt


Why do painters wear white?

Painters wear white because in the early 1700’s people working in the trades industry started wearing white-colored clothes. They chose white color for their overalls because, at the time, white was the primary color of choice for most buildings, and it made sense to wear white and save their colored clothes from white splotches while they painted the building.

The above is just one of the reasons why painters wear white. There are many historical and practical reasons for professional painters opting for white-colored painter apparel. Let’s find out!

#1 The History

According to Dickies, the famous workwear company, painters and other tradespeople started wearing white-colored work clothes in the 1700s. In that era, the primary paint color of choice was white, which made white overalls impervious to splotches. 

#2 The Clothing Phenomenon- Painter’s Pants

As the name suggests, Painter’s Pants were designed in the early 1900s by brands like Dickies for people working in trades. These pants were made up of canvas with many loose pockets and bulky stitched seams. They were usually white in color. These pants are still famous amongst the tradespeople and are apparently a trendy fashion statement. 

#3 The Professional Look

One of the top reasons for painters wearing white clothes is so they look professional and clean. Since painters need to work inside of people’s homes, a clean look is important for hygiene and for the peace of mind of the homeowner. The white and spotless clothes also lend credence to a painter’s skill and show how neat and precise they are while painting.  

#4 Working Outdoors 

The best time to get exterior paint done is in the summer. That means doing physical labor for long hours in excruciating heat. The best color for clothing in such situations is white. It is the coolest color and reflects heat, and is much better than other colors for keeping cool on a hot summer day.



#5 The Experienced and Cool Painter Look

A painter’s experience is visible in the blotches of paint on their clothes. No other color accentuates these blotches other than white. Even though the Pro look is critical, the colorful kaleidoscopic aesthetics also brings a charm that only painters can understand. 

#6 The Color White

Of all the colors, white is one of the most peaceful and positive colors. It signals simplicity, freshness, and cleanliness from the get-go. It is also one of the most used colors on a typical painting project site. 

#7 The Cleaning Routine

In the early days of commercial painting, painters would often wash their clothes on site with bleach or lye (an old-school alkaline paint remover). Regardless of the original color of their clothing, they would eventually become white after a bleach. It must have made sense to wear white clothes so that the bleaching routine would be more productive and keep the painters looking neat. 

#8 The Pragmatic Reasons

There are many practical reasons that make choosing white-colored clothing an easy choice for a painting company. 

  • All branding and logos are easily visible. 
  • More than 50% of the paint used in a painting project is white. White-colored clothing hides those white spots and gives a cleaner look.
  • White is one of the most common colors for bulk ordering clothes. And many times, it is more cost-effective as well. 

#9 The PLE Color Code

Most of the PLE crew wears white; no big surprise there! However, there is more to the PLE uniform. All of our on-ground, hands-on crew wear white shirts with black stripes. All our site supervisors wear black shirts with white stripes so that it is easier to identify them in the hustle-bustle of a project site. This color-coding helps in identifying and locating a site supervisor for anything that requires their attention. The white stripes on the site supervisors’ black clothing signify their seniority level in the team. 


We hope by now you know why do painters wear white. The jury is still out on the debate whether wearing white makes sense for a pro-painter in the 21st century. We also love the why do painters wear white jokes that are floating around on the internet. Here is a good one:

Why do painters wear white? So that no one will know when they get plastered.

At PLE, our uniforms represent our dedication to professionalism. We deliver that professionalism by showing up in our uniforms, on time, and with a clear plan. Our site supervisors arrive half an hour early to prepare the site and plan the day’s activities. We plan to the last minute detail to be efficient with our use of resources and time. For us, wearing a white uniform is not a sartorial choice; it represents our professionalism and dedication to our customers. 

You can also download this cool Infographic about why painters wear white.

An infographic showing why painters wear white